Key Takeaways

  • People living with anxiety disorders experience  ongoing fears and worries beyond the occasional anxiety that we all experience from time to time. Their anxiety does not dissipate on its own and this impacts their ability to live their daily lives.
  • Anxiety is a common and highly-treatable mental health condition. Treatment for anxiety disorders usually includes therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. A mental health professional who specializes in anxiety disorders can help you decide the right treatment for you.
  • If you’re considering seeking help for your anxiety, you don’t have to know all the different types of therapy that might work for you. Your provider can help you navigate the options and understand what will work best for you. 

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety from time to time. For example, you might get worried before a big test or presentation at work. Or you might feel anxious while walking through a dark parking lot by yourself. Anxiety is a natural stress response in situations like these. It represents your brain’s attempt to keep you safe and it usually subsides in time. 

But people living with anxiety disorders experience general and ongoing fears and worries that don’t dissipate on their own and this impacts their ability to live their daily lives. Anxiety is a highly treatable mental health condition. It can be addressed with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. 

If you or someone you care about is struggling with anxiety, know that you’re not alone and that help is available. By learning more about the best types of therapy for anxiety, you can make a more informed and empowered choice as you seek support to improve your mental health.

Finding the right type of therapy for you

If you’re considering seeking therapy for anxiety, you don’t have to know all the different types of treatment that might work for you. However, some people find that having some insight into their options helps them feel more comfortable asking for help. 

The first and most important step in healing from anxiety is finding a qualified therapist who specializes in treating anxiety disorders. They can create a personalized treatment plan that reflects your unique strengths and challenges and together, you can decide the right type of therapy for you. 

The following research-backed therapies are frequently used to treat anxiety. Your provider (or prospective provider) can tell you which types of therapy they specialize in and weigh in on what  treatment plan they recommend for you.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a very common treatment for anxiety disorders because of the considerable research demonstrating its effectiveness. It involves identifying, challenging, and replacing unhelpful thought and behavior patterns. By helping you step out of negative cycles, behavioral therapists practicing CBT can help you address the root of your anxiety and find relief from your symptoms.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT is a form of CBT that can be helpful when examining thought and behavior patterns doesn’t provide relief. It focuses on building emotional regulation skills and encouraging participants to fully accept all parts of themselves — even their anxiety. By helping people learn to accept and regulate uncomfortable emotions, DBT has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

ACT encourages participants to strike a balance between accepting the seemingly dysfunctional parts of themselves (i.e. their anxiety) and committing to making positive changes that reflect their values. The ACT framework includes: accepting thoughts and feelings, being present, choosing a valued direction, and taking action. This approach can help people disconnect from their anxious thoughts and live more fully and peacefully in the present moment. 

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a safe, research-backed therapy that can help you confront and reduce anxiety. During this process, your therapist will support you in gradually engaging with whatever triggers your worries. For example, if your anxiety revolves around social situations, your therapist might begin by asking you to picture yourself at a social gathering and explore the feelings that come up. In doing so, you may experience some short-term discomfort. But over time, this exposure can help you break unhelpful avoidance patterns and decrease your anxiety.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

MSBR is a mindfulness-based therapeutic intervention that involves group classes and homework over the course of about eight weeks. It includes activities like breathwork, body scanning, yoga, and meditation to increase present awareness and reduce stress. What’s more, recent research has shown that MSBR may be as effective at treating anxiety disorders as one of the most popular frontline anxiety medications (escitalopram or Lexapro).

If you’re wondering about the best type of treatment for addressing your anxiety, talking to a mental health professional can help. Throughout your treatment journey, it might be helpful to try different approaches and experiment with what works best for you at different times. Know that there’s usually some ebb and flow within this process and it might take some time to find the interventions that make the biggest positive impact for you. Throughout this experience, try to have patience with yourself and remember that healing can take some time.

Find support for anxiety disorders with Rula

When it comes to finding the best therapy to help you heal from anxiety, know that you don’t have to make a decision on your own. A therapist (or another mental health professional) who specializes in anxiety disorders can listen to your concerns, provide a professional evaluation and diagnosis, and help you decide which path to care might be best for you. 

With Rula, you get access to our extensive network of therapists who offer a wide range of specialized care in just a few clicks. Our therapist-matching program is designed to make it easier for you to find the anxiety support you need from a provider who takes your insurance. Plus, our team will always be there to answer any questions that come up along the way. 

Find anxiety therapists near you

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